Douglas Yee

Born: June 2, 1955 | Detroit, MI, US

Douglas Yee was born in Detroit to parents who had fled China just before World War II. He came to like chemistry while attending the University of Michigan, where he studied zoology and anthropology. During the summers he worked in Joan Bull's lab at the National Institutes of Health and became interested in cancer and genetics. He entered medical school at the University of Chicago; there he studied Epstein-Barr virus. His internship and residency followed at North Carolina Memorial Hospital. Then he accepted a staff fellow position at the National Cancer Institute, where he researched insulin-like growth factors (IGF) in Marc E. Lippman's lab. He went on to an instructorship at Georgetown University, then to an assistant professorship at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He is now an associate professor there.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0489
No. of pages: 138
Minutes: 500

Interview Sessions

Andrea R. Maestrejuan
23-25 August 1995
University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas

Abstract of Interview

Douglas Yee was born in Detroit, Michigan to parents who had fled China just before World War II. His father was an engineer and his mother a radiologist. His mother comes from a large family, all of whom left China and settled either in Hong Kong or in the United States; they remain close, getting together often for family events and holidays. Yee has one sibling, an older sister who took a PhD in social work at the University of Chicago.

Yee attended a boarding school for high school; he did not evince an early passion for science, but he did like the puzzle of chemistry, especially organic chemistry, when he was in college at the University of Michigan. He ended up majoring in zoology and anthropology. During the summers he worked in Joan Bull's lab at the National Institutes of Health, where he became interested in cancer and human genetics. He entered medical school at the University of Chicago; there he studied Epstein-Barr virus in Elliott Kieff's lab and realized that he wanted to concentrate on lab research rather than clinical practice. He married Janet Smith, with whom he now has two children. His internship and residency followed at North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; his specialty was internal medicine, his subspecialty oncology. After his residency he accepted a staff fellow position at the National Cancer Institute. He began his research on the role of insulin-like growth factors (IGF) in Marc E. Lippman's lab. From there he went to an instructorship at Georgetown University Medical Center; then to an assistant professorship at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He is now an associate professor there; he continues his work on IGF, publishing many articles and winning a number of grants and awards.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1977 University of Michigan BS
1981 University of Chicago MD

Professional Experience

North Carolina Memorial Hospital

1981 to 1982
Intern
1982 to 1984
Resident
1984 to 1985
Chief Medical Resident

National Cancer Institute

1985 to 1988
Medical Staff Fellow, Medicine Branch

Georgetown University

1988 to 1989
Instructor

University of Texas Health Science Center

1989 to 1993
Assistant Professor
1993 to 1996
Associate Professor

Honors

Year(s) Award
1977

Phi Beta Kappa

1981

Catherine Dobson Award, Pritzker School of Medicine

1987

Adviser, Michele Susan Kogod Memorial Foundation

1990 to 1994

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Family emigrates from China to the United States. Childhood and education in Detroit, Michigan. Attends Cranbrook School, a private boys' boarding school. The experience of living at Cranbrook. Yee's parents and sister. His children and their education. His high school years.

Undergraduate Years
25

Attends the University of Michigan, majoring in anthropology and zoology while fulfilling premedicine requirements. Studies cancer chemotherapy in the laboratory of Joan M. Bull. Decides to go into cancer research as a career. Yee's scholastic performance improves in college.

Medical and Graduate School Years
42

Enters the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Preference for working at public hospitals where patients' ability to pay is not an issue. Decides to pursue a straight MD degree rather than a combined MD/PhD. Conducts research on Epstein-Barr virus in the Elliott Kieff lab. Decides to concentrate on laboratory research rather than clinical practice. Selects internal medicine as a specialty. Living in Chicago. Marries Janet Smith; balancing family and work. Internship and residency at North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill, with subspecialty of oncology. Translating basic research discoveries into improved treatment. Joan Bull as mentor and role model Living in Chapel Hill.

Postgraduate Years
69

Becomes a medical staff fellow at the National Cancer Institute. Relearning laboratory techniques. Conducts research on the role of insulin-like growth factors (IGF-1) in Marc E. Lippman's lab. Competition in the IGF field. Follows Lippman to the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, where Yee is given an instructorship. Balancing family responsibilities during his tenure in Lippman's lab.

Later years
99

Accepts assistant professorship at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Setting up a laboratory. The University of Texas Health Science Center's emphasis on research and teaching; Yee's teaching responsibilities and administrative duties. Recruiting and training graduate students and postdocs. Evolution of research toward gene therapy research. Conflict between intellectual property protection and free flow of scientific information. Conflict between need for funding and interests of funding providers. More on translating basic research discoveries into improved treatment. The effect of advocacy groups on science funding.

Index
135

About the Interviewer

Andrea R. Maestrejuan